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The Illini struggled to find consistency this past season on their way to a 7-6 (4-4 Big Ten) record. This was to be expected freshman Nathan Scheelhaase took over the signal calling for the Illini.
While he was feeling his way into the position, the Illini took advantage of a three-pronged running attack, with running backs Mikel Leshoure and Jason Ford along with Scheelhaase rushing for 3,045 yards. WR A.J. Jenkins emerged for the run-first Illini as the main receiving option as he caught 56 passes for 746 yards.
The Illini have some big holes to fill this upcoming season as they lost several key players including LB Martrez Wilson, DL Corey Liuget and Leshoure. Ford will be counted on to pick up the running load this season and DT Daryle Ballew and LB Evan Frierson, along with others will have to fill the defensive holes. The recruiting class will add some depth, though it lacks the number of five and four-star recruits that Zook brought in at the start of his Illini tenure.
The Illini will have a lot of home cooking this season as they play eight games at Memorial Stadium and do not play their first road game until October 8th against Indiana. The Illini have the potential to be 5-0 prior to that first road game if they gel and play at the level they did in defeating Baylor last season. If they show the inconsistency that led to a 1-3 stretch to close the regular season, a 2-3 start is not out of the question
Prediction: 6-6 (3-5, fourth place Leaders)